TAMPA — A $52 million polytrauma center to treat the most seriously injured veterans breaks ground today at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center.
The 178,000-square-foot project will replace an existing center that has served 600 patients since 2003. It's one of only four polytrauma centers nationwide.
"This new facility will ensure VA provides 21st century care for these most deserving of patients," said U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki in a statement.
Polytrauma rehabilitation refers to intensive care for veterans suffering brain injuries, burns and blast injuries. Most patients have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Construction at the facility, north of Temple Terrace, will be done in three phases and is expected to be finished by early 2013. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. today.
The first phase includes a two-floor building with inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, including prosthetics.
In the second phase, the 10,000-square-foot spinal cord injury center will be renovated.
Then an 8,000-square-foot therapy pool building will be built.
The rehabilitation center will feature 56 private bedrooms with enough room for family to visit.
Six bedrooms will be grouped together with a team of doctors, nurses and therapists to evoke a residential feel, a VA statement said.
New technology includes two virtual-reality simulation therapy systems that assist with a patient's physical improvement.
In the therapy pool, the floor will move up and down to ease access for the physically disabled.
The pool also includes an underwater treadmill that monitors the patient's movements.
In addition to the Tampa facility, there are polytrauma centers in Minneapolis, Richmond, Va., and Palo Alto, Calif.
There are plans to open another polytrauma center next year in San Antonio, Texas.